Does split sizing equal a splitting headache?

So this week Colette released their new pattern, the Penny shirt dress. I’m on their Pattern Insider email list, so I got a sneak peek on Monday morning and was smitten from the off. It looks like a lovely pattern with some interesting features – I particularly like the belt detail on version 2, and the sleeves on version 1 are super pretty. Obviously, I’ve already bought it.


Anyway, I note that Colette have introduced split sizing to their printed patterns; something they’ve been doing with their Seamwork patterns since the beginning of the year. I get why they do it – you need to draft differently for different body types, plus it gets confusing if there are too many sizes on a single sheet. If you buy the misses (0-16) or curvy (18-26) printed Penny pattern directly from Colette’s online shop, you also get access to both ranges in pdf format so you can grade more easily. You can also buy the pdf on its own, if that’s your preference. For more about Colette’s approach to split sizing, click here.

This is a great development from Colette – they’re doing their best to be inclusive and cater for as many of their customers as possible. As someone whose body spans the misses and curvy ranges by as many as four sizes between waist and hips, having the option to grade is essential. I wish more pattern companies would follow suit, and when I say that I’m looking particularly at the Big Four. A quick scan of the McCalls website shows that their patterns come in two size ranges, with a crossover of one size (e.g. the ubiquitous M6696 shirt dress comes in sizes 8-16 and 16-24). PDF provision is patchy, and even when they do exist they’re split between the same size ranges. Basically, if you want to grade between the ranges you have to spend your money twice.

This puts me off buying from them. My pattern drafting skills ain’t all that, and the sizing/grading advice on the McCalls website to pick from my hip size and alter the waist is a bit of a ball ache (yes, I am lazy). Would it be cost-effective for them to offer grouped PDFs a la Colette? Or is it worth doing a mid-sized range of printed patterns in addition to the misses and curvy sizes so that there’s more overlap? How would this affect their design process? Should I just bite the bullet and give the Big Four a go?




8 thoughts on “Does split sizing equal a splitting headache?

  1. Lesley says:

    I find the big 4 have so much ease that their sizing in chaotic. if I actually follow their sizing I’d be in the plus size range when in practice if I make a straight 14 in most of them it fits me perfectly

    • Jo says:

      I’ve heard that about them – I suppose if you’re churning out patterns the quality control isn’t necessarily there re sizing. I should just give it a go, but having all sizes available would certainly make me feel better. I might try something low stakes first, like pjs or something.

  2. Leigh says:

    As a bit of a yo-yo in terms of size I find split sizing a right pain. Simplicity used to split at a 16, which worked okay for me because I tend to vary between a 12-16/18 on their size scale, but I just bought a new Simplicity pattern that split at 14. I’m larger at the moment so I bought the bigger size range but if I slim down and like the pattern I’ll have to buy it again. And like Lesley says above, the excessive ease adds another factor to consider. One of my New Look patterns I sewed in either an 8 or a 10 and it still fits me even though I’m closer to an 18 on their size chart at the moment.

    In terms of the Big Four offering PDFs, the one Simplicity PDF I’ve used what the worst thing ever. It was so hard to put together I’ll never use another one of their PDFs and if it hadn’t been a freebie I probably would have complained. I don’t know if McCall’s PDFs are any better though.

    • Jo says:

      I find it strange that the big pattern companies can’t get PDFs sorted – I don’t think I’ve had a duff one from an indie pattern company. I’d be interested to know why they don’t really bother with them. I’ve got no idea about pattern production, but would have thought it wouldn’t take much to transfer to PDF when you’re already laying out for print anyway?

      Anyway, I’ll try the Big Four one day but given my queue at the moment it might be a while before I bite the bullet!

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